Constitutional Court petition aiming to criminalize gay sex would also make ALL sex outside of marriage illegal

As we’ve written about before, there is currently a petition being argued in front of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court with the goal of rewriting the nation’s criminal code to make homosexual acts between consenting adults illegal and punishable by up to 5 years in jail.

The fact that the country’s highest court is willing to even listen to this petition is seen by many as a disturbing example of Indonesia’s recent rising tide of anti-LGBT sentiment that has seen the persecuted minority attacked not just by intolerant extremists but also numerous officials within the government.

But something that has gotten a bit lost in the coverage of the case is how it not only represent a rise of institutionalized homophobia, but also a creeping ultra-conservatism that is increasingly being embraced by many Indonesians, one in which all sex, homosexual and heterosexual, outside of marriage would be criminalized.

The petition before the Constitutional Court, filed by members of a group called Aliansi Cinta Keluarga (Family Love Alliance), argues that a statute in the criminal code, which currently criminalizes same-sex acts between adults and minors, should be rewritten to apply to acts between consenting adults as well.

But the petition goes even further, arguing that the laws should be rewritten so that any sexual act outside of marriage should be defined as an obscenity punishable by up to 5 years in jail – a point made crystal clear in recently released court documents.

In the  transcripts from a court session that took place on July 25 but which were released on the website of the Constitutional Court just yesterday, one of the “experts” testifying in favor of the petition, Dr. Mudzakir of the Indonesian Islamic University (UII) in Yogyakarta, argued that the country’s current criminal code is based on the laws which the Dutch used to govern Indonesia during the Colonial era. As such, he argues that it is based in Western culture and its permissive attitude towards “free sex” and thus was not in line with Indonesia’s state ideology of Pancasila.

“A new law should be written, if possible. If it is not possible, what opportunity do we have now? To make it [the criminalization of sex outside of marriage] the norm by way of amending or calling for a judicial review on Article 284 of the Criminal Code. The point is to make sexual intercourse out of wedlock forbidden,” Mudzakir said.

Back in 2013, conservative legislators tried and failed to pass a law which would have effectively done the same thing as the Constitutional Court petition is asking – to make sex outside of marriage illegal and punishable by up to five years in jail.

Now conservatives see an opening to bypass the legislature and have their will enforced by the Constitutional Court, using issues of nationalism and anti-LGBT sentiment to strengthen their cause. We hope the judges in this case will have the wisdom to see through their ploy, because, if not, Indonesia’s social progressiveness would suddenly take several enormous steps backwards with a single decision.

The next session in the Constitutional Court’s hearing of the petition will take place on August 23.

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